Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Keeper of the lions

Daniel 6:16 . . . The king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!" King Darius cast Daniel into the lion's den, knowing that Daniel's only hope was with the God whom you serve. Even a doubting, egotistical king was overcome with remorse when his decree revealed Daniel still chose God and must be punished for breaking the rules. There is comfort in Daniel choosing God, taking a risk; there is comfort in the king getting a second chance, choosing God.

The story is familiar. Daniel had been found kneeling in prayer, thanking and praising his God. The conspirators found him praying, asking God for help. They went to the king reminding him of his royal decree forbidding anyone to pray to any god except the king for thirty days. The punishment was to be thrown into the loins' den. The king had found favor with Daniel and was distressed to learn that he was who they were reporting. At this, the king was very upset and tried his best to get Daniel out of the fix . . . He worked at it the whole day long. But the conspirators were back, "Remember . . .the king's decree!" The king . . . ordered Daniel thrown into the lions' den. But he said to Daniel, "Your God, to whom you are so loyal, is going to get you out of this. The king could not eat, could not sleep.

Daniel was protected and the king rejoiced. Verse 23 says Daniel was saved because He had trusted his God. Continuing on with verses 24-27 The king commanded that the conspirators who had informed on Daniel be thrown into the lions' den, along with their wives and children. Before they hit the floor, the lions had them in their jaws, tearing them to pieces. King Darius published this proclalmation to every race, color and creed on earth:
Peace to you! Abundant peace!
I decree that Daniel's God shall be worshiped and feared in all parts of my kingdom.
He is the living God, world without end.
His kingdom never falls.
His rule continues eternally.
He is a savior and rescuer.
He performs astonishing miracles in heaven and on earth.
He saved Daniel from the power of the lions. ~
from Daniel 6 in the Message

There is comfort in knowing that the God we worship and love and praise, reaches down in difficult times and rescues us from those who desire us to fail. He uses our Christian witness - our confessions of mistakes, our commitment of faith and our choices - to influence others. I know that conspirators manipulate truth and that evil seeks destruction. But even better - I know God - a living God, who never falls, a savior and rescuer,who performs astonishing miracles. God saves us from the lions! And in our worst moments, when we let ourselves get in the way - He reveals Himself to us through others, provides us with a chance for forgiveness and redemption. What a Mighty God!

Keeper of the lions!

Mighty God -
I come to You on my knees with a contrite heart. How is it that You choose to love me so much? How is it that You rescue me even when I allow evil to permeate my heart? How is it that you give me second chances when I fall? I know it is easy to blame the conspirators and fear the lions. It is harder to see the manipulation and harder to trust the lions' den. Make me like Daniel, willing to risk all that I have for You. Rescue me when I fall victim to evil. Save me from the lions! And when I am more like Darius, swayed by my own pursuits, let me see You in another's actions, hear You in another's words. Let me feel Your presence in my unsettled heart. My hope rests in a Mighty God who loves me. I trust in a Living God that rescues my heart from the deeds of evil, that saves me from the lions. Praise prayers call to You from the deepest places within my soul - Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Holy Spirit, come and dwell in me. Be my Abundant Peace. I ask this in the name of Jesus, Son of the Everlasting Father, Maker of heaven and earth. Amen.
~dho

He gives a greater grace . . . James 4:6 (msg)